"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. (Matthew 5:13 NRSV)
In his book SALT FOR SOCIETY, W. Phillip Keller talks about growing up in East Africa. Even though his family lived at the equator, there was no refrigeration. As a result they had no complex methods of preserving meat, fish, fruit or vegetables. Thus, like so many generations before them, they used salt to preserve their food.
Meat in particular would rapidly decay and salt was the only ingredient that could slow the process. Keller recalls how tons of meat were cut up into slender strips and were soaked in salt solution. Then those strips would be hung to dry, becoming what we in North America would call "Jerky." Keller never took anything but "Jerky" with him when he went hunting. It make for a light but nourishing meal. Salt both preserved the food in the intense heat and offered great strength when it was consumed.
Salt has been used by countless cultures for their survival. In ancient Palestine salt was as valuable as gold. In so many varied situations, salt was the difference between life and death. Thus, when Jesus referred to His disciples as "The salt of the earth," He was both bestowing upon them the highest honor and demanding from them the greatest responsibility.
Loving God, help me to be your salt wherever I am. Amen.
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